Posted by: Admin | April 18, 2011

What do you VALUE?

It’s been a funny old weekend, what with one thing and another. Long story short: it’s made me pause and ask myself a few questions. Such as, is what I do with my time of less value if it has no monetary worth?

That might sound like a no-brainer, but when you’re building a business it’s easy to forget to take your nose away from the grindstone and look around you. “Success” is, after all, usually measured by pounds in the pocket. Of course, without the pounds we don’t eat or pay the rent, but consider, for a moment, how our society has come to associate success with money.

I’ve been tied up with business plans and projections and explanations about how I plan to “monetize” my activities (assume that’s spelt with a “z” – it has to be an American word, after all!) for far too long. Take this blog. Am I less of a writer because I don’t get paid to write it? Is it’s purpose – to connect with you and explore things that matter to us – less important because it’s free? Does the fact that I put my business on “go slow” for two months to look after my daughter while she was ill mean that I am less committed to my work? Will they put “she was a great photographer” on my tombstone? (Well, no, since I plan to be planted under a tree for compost, but that’s beside the point…)

I went on a shoot with Amelia, a lovely soon-to-be 15 year old, last week. It was a job, so I was paid for my time – but not all of it. According to my business plan I am supposed to allocate so much time to shooting, so much to editing etc etc. But I was having fun with Amelia and, as with most of my shoots, we ran way over time. She was interested in photography, so I let her have a go with my long lens, then she thought of a new location, so we went there… in truth, I am probablyworking for minimum wage. Does that matter? As the shoot went on, Amelia went from polite but uncommunicative teen to engaged, engaging young woman and I believe we both went away not only with a fabulous set of photographs that her mum will cherish, but feeling satisfied. Would we have felt like that if we’d stuck to the cost effective “schedule”? Of course not.

My time with Amelia reminded me to hug my kids – metaphorically since they’re all so far away. She also made me realise I’d rather be cash poor and time rich. Who knows? Maybe her mum (my client) will recognise the fun her daughter had, see how her confidence grew and buy all the images – then I can eat too! What do you think? Do we value what we do for no monetary reward enough?

(you can see more of Amelia’s photos in a slideshow with music on my photography business Facebook page)

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